When I consider the modern era of television, or the entertainment industry as a whole for that matter, the first thought that comes to my mind is, "we need more of the same!" For those who don't appreciate my sarcasm, I have fantastic news: Upload with Shaquille O’Neal is coming to a TruTV near you. (The premiere is tonight, Thurs., Feb. 21, at 10:30 p.m.) For this oh-so-not-special 30-minute comedy show, hosts Shaq (expecting someone else?), Godfrey and Gary Owen make wise cracks at Internet videos. Because The Soup, Tosh.0, Ridiculousness and Sports Soup (to name but a few) weren't enough already.
The best aspect of Upload is that the premise is simplistic enough to be explained in a sentence. The worst aspects are everything else having to do with the show.
Start with the heavy editing. How much post-production is necessary for a half-hour comedy show? I would go so far as to say the editors are splicing together punchlines with unrelated reaction shots of the hosts, in order to make it appear as though they're laughing at one joke when they were probably cracking up at something else altogether. This begs the question: Why not just include the footage of the jokes that they were genuinely laughing at?
It's also apparent that, despite having a live audience, there's an unfortunate amount of laugh track use going on here. Upload is so lame that the "LAUGH" signs, usually foolproof in eliciting the desired reaction from an audience, didn't do the trick with the supposedly warm bodies attending the taping.
Additionally, a portion of the hosts' commentary and dialogue are scripted, but it doesn't come off like it does with Daniel Tosh and Joel McHale. Those guys have writers attempting to utilize their host’s comedic timing and style, and the specific tone of the show. Upload comes off as forced, and therefore unnatural. It's a shame because even during his basketball career, Shaq was known for his jolly sense of humor, and Godfrey and Gary Owen are successful enough comedians to have earned a place on TV. They're three funny guys sitting around commenting on videos that are just begging to be made fun of. How the show’s producers have screwed this up is beyond me. Just let the hosts be their usual funny selves.
Take the segment called "Shaq Don't Crack," during which Godfrey, Gary Owen and the weekly guest pick clips they think will make Shaq laugh. Shaq sits there unimpressed with a blank face during each clip. Two things: One, who thought it was a good idea to have the host of a comedy show purposely not laugh at the content being shown?!!? And two, does Shaq know that he’s having the same reaction as the people watching his show? It’s as if the director decided, Screw it, just turn up the laugh track. Nobody will notice.
I did laugh, but the funny moments aren’t the show's main content. Shaq does little skits that play as the show goes into and out of commercial breaks. These have genuine comedic value. Maybe the "Shaqtus" would have been better off starring in his own sketch comedy show instead?
For now, the big guy needs to stick to Buick commercials.